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Tom's Cookbook Library: Tips, tricks from pitmaster Tuffy Stone

Use a cool smoke rub to create cherry barbecue sauce-smothered ribs

"Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue" by Tuffy Stone instructs on all-around barbecue technique.
"Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue" by Tuffy Stone instructs on all-around barbecue technique.

The backyard grilling season is off to a good start with the noteworthy arrival of “Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue” (St. Martin’s Griffin).

Written by world champion pitmaster Tuffy Stone, the book distills the award-winning chef’s know-how to an art form. He has won recognition as a five-time World Champion Pitmaster and judge of "Destination America’s BBQ Pimasters" and co-owner of the revered Q Barbecue restaurants.

Various chapters deal with choosing the right cooker; the best way to trim a cut of meat; and 100-plus creative recipes to make you a barbecue master.

Check out Stone’s recipe for Smoked Loin Back Ribs with cherry barbecue sauce. It’s a classic.


(Makes four servings)

1 cup Cool Smoke Rub (*see below)

2 racks loin back pork ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds each), trimmed with membrane removed (ask your butcher to do this)

1/2 cup apple juice, in a spray bottle, for the grill

3 cups Cherry Barbecue Sauce (*see below)

Prepare the Cool Smoke Rub.

An hour before you plan to cook the ribs, season each rack with 1/2 cup of the Cool Smoke Rub (use 1/4 cup per side), using a shaker to dust evenly on both sides.

When you are ready to cook, heat the smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit pit temperature.

Place the ribs meat-side up in the smoker, or on the cool side of the grill, close the grill lid, and cook for one hour, then spray the ribs with apple juice to moisten. Cook the ribs for one hour more, spraying them with juice again after 30 minutes and a final time at the two-hour mark.

Prepare the Cherry Barbecue Sauce.

Cut two 18-by-24-inch lengths of foil to wrap each rib rack in a tight package.

When the ribs have a reddish-brown mahogany color, transfer them from the grill and place each rack meat-side down on a sheet of foil and wrap tightly, being careful not to puncture the foil. Place the rib packages meat-side down in the smoker, or on the cool side of the grill, and cook for 1 1/2 hours more, until tender. Open the foil packages and use a skewer or a toothpick to check for tenderness.

Remove the ribs from the foil, brush each rack with 1/2 cup of the Cherry Barbecue Sauce (use 1/4 cup per side), and return them meat-side up to the smoker, or to the cool side of the grill, for five to ten minutes to set the sauce. Watch them carefully so you do not burn or overset the sauce.

Transfer to a platter and serve with any remaining sauce on the side.


(Makes a generous 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl. kosher salt

1/4 cup smoked chili powder

2 Tbl. plus 2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. granulated onion

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until ready to use.


(Makes 1 quart)

3 cups ketchup

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

2 Tbl. molasses

1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. chipotle chile powder

1 Tbl. sweet paprika

1 tsp. granulated onion

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup cherry preserves

1/2 cup sun-dried cherries

In a 4-quart saucepan combine all the ingredients with 1/2 cup water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring continuously, for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool slightly.

Puree the cooled sauce in a blender until smooth, and set aside until ready to use., or transfer the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use, up to two weeks.

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Contact him at

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